May 21, 2019

Former FDA commissioner: Gene therapies' price tags threaten access

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Gene therapies and other new treatments that have the potential to cure debilitating diseases could also end up widening the gap between the rich and the poor, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb writes for CNBC.

The bottom line: That's because the expected price tag for some of these new medicines are expected to be in the millions. Insurers — which are used to pay for treatment over time — are struggling to figure out how to pay this kind of sum all at once.

  • The problem is especially acute within Medicaid, which is constrained by state budgets.

One solution is to mimic Louisiana's "Netflix model" for hepatitis C treatment, in which the state pays the drugmaker a fixed annual fee for an unlimited amount of hepatitis C medication for 5 years.

  • This kind of model, Gottlieb writes, is a win-win: Drugmakers can offer states better pricing because of the multiyear commitment, while states get to smooth out the cost of making the treatment available to a whole population.
  • "We need to make sure that access to a curative drug doesn't become a yardstick by which poverty is eventually measured," he writes.

Go deeper: A look at Scott Gottlieb's legacy as FDA head

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to less than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 5,401,701 — Total deaths: 345,060 — Total recoveries — 2,149,407Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 1,643,238 — Total deaths: 97,720 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

President Trump doubled down on his push to reopen schools, tweeting late Sunday: "Schools in our country should be opened ASAP."

Zoom in: Trump pushed back on NIAD Director Anthony Fauci cautioning against the move earlier this month, calling his concerns "not an acceptable answer."